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Kathy Freston Gets Oprah to Try Veganism!

Filed under: Media
Kathy and Oprah share a moment.

Kathy and Oprah share a moment.

On today’s makeover-themed episode of Oprah, the very gorgeous vegan spiritual counselor Kathy Freston discussed the eight “Pillars of Wellness” in the mind, body, and spirit. Freston, author of several best-selling books and the recent title Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness, promoted veganism, saying, “The mother of all pillars is conscious eating.” She explained:

It doesn’t only make a difference to our own personal health and well-being, but conscious eating means you stay aware of where your food comes from, how the animals are treated and how the environment is affected by the foods that you eat.

If I want to be someone with spiritual integrity, I have to think about the principles that I want to adhere to— compassion, kindness, mercy and the alleviating of suffering when I see it.…I thought, ‘If I want to further myself on my spiritual path, as well as my health path, I need to have more integrity. I need to be conscious about it.’

Last year, SuperVegan blogger Susie Cagle, along with many readers, gave Kathy Freston some flack for publicly conceding to eat a “modicum of butter” that was possibly hidden in a bun when dining out with a group of non-veg friends. Perhaps getting the most influential woman in American media to try veganism will give her more street cred.

Personally, I’m impressed with Freston’s success in promoting a compassionate vegan diet to such a huge and receptive mainstream audience. Furthermore, I am thrilled that Oprah is giving veganism a whirl and is sharing her 21-day cleanse experience with her blog readers. I’m even inspired to try the cleanse myself. I’ve got some bad habits to shake (procrastination and lack of direction being the most frustrating), perhaps a holistic approach might help. Have any of you ever done a cleanse?

Kudos to Melissa at Black Vegetarian Society of New York and Laura at For the Love of Animals… and Other Stuff for letting us know about this story!


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Speaking on behalf of SuperVegan blogger Susie Cagle: I think cleanses are a bunch of b.s. but I’m glad for anyone raising veganism’s profile in the media, so I don’t even have one snarky comment for Kathy Freston today.

  2. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Okay, Kathy. I forgive you. Just don’t say anything stupid for a while, please!

  3. Comment by


    on #

    I am SO happy someone went on Oprah and talked about Veganism; I wrote to Dr. Oz about how to “reallY” stay healthy w/o needing “fish” (using flaxseed oil for our Omega 3’s)and cannot wait to watch the taped show!. I am not familiar with Kathy but I personally want to thank her for bringing veganism to a larger audience that other shows might, so thanks Kathy! Also, thanks to Andre 3000, Russell Simmons, Stella McCartney, etc. I am vegan now for almost 2 years, feel much better, and am very involved in vegan events, cooking all vegan, animal rights, eating healthy and exercising regularly. I hope some more people will research this topic and consider switching to a plant based diet for your health, the environment, and the animals. Yes, you’ll get more protein and calcium then needed through plant based foods! Check out,,, etc. Read and learn! Here’s to good health! Gigi in NJ

  4. Comment by


    on #

    p.s. I do not cleanse per-se but I drink “lots” of water, I still eat dairy-free chocolates, make coffee lattes using soy or rice milk, I cook using Earth Balance (tastes like butter/made-w/oils) and bake using egg replacers. You can “still” enjoy your favorite foods and more while sticking to a vegan diet; there are lots of texturized vegetable and soy proteins that taste SO GOOD when seasoned that will have the consistency of any texture you want, even chicken or beef, if you want. (without an animal doomed to misery and death). There are thousands of recipes out there; check it out. Enjoy! Do your research; it’s all here, on line, or in cookbooks and it’s fun and simple. (from hummus to black beans, quacamole to smoothies, you will never feel deprived, I promise). Gigi

  5. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    Yeah, I’ve had the vegan thing covered for five years or so, but the no caffeine, alcohol, gluten, or sugar thing is gonna be tough. I’ve never given up all these things at once before. Plus, there’s the question of who am I without my indulgences? My online handle is SugarShakes! Is it possible to enjoy Memorial Day weekend without binging on booze and cupcakes? I’m scared!

  6. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Well, I still consider Kathy Freston to be an overprivileged idiot. She’s got the nation’s most influential person trying veganism for all the wrong reasons. It’s about the animals, stupid!

  7. Comment by

    Peace Loving Vegan Police

    on #

    Attention Vegan Damage Control, we have a situation!

    A 21-day plant-based woo cleansing diet that is as unsustainable for Oprah as her marathon and weight-loss programs in the past doesn’t earn her the title of vegan. Especially when she gestures petting animals on television and then jokingly asks if it’s now alright to eat them.

    When she stops her “difficult” diet that made her feel “weak and deprived” I don’t want to hear about how she was once “vegan” but couldn’t do if for very long.

    “It’s about the animals, stupid!”
    Agreed. Further it’s a philosophy of non-exploitation and non-violence that questions cultural assumptions on many social issues, it’s about the animals, non-human and human.

  8. Comment by

    Joselle Palacios

    on #

    According to Oprah’s blog entries (I haven’t watched the episode so can’t comment on what exactly Kathy Freston and Oprah discussed), she is doing this in large part for the animals. This isn’t just some diet fad, although I know the health aspects of the cleanse have been touted. This is what Oprah wrote:

    “[Kathy Freston] speaks of ‘spiritual integrity.’ How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?

    So this 21-day cleanse gives me a chance to think about it differently and see what my attachments are to certain kinds of foods?and what I’m willing to do to change.”

    No matter the outcome for Oprah after these 21 days, the point is, she’s talking about veganism and sharing vegan recipes with MILLIONS of viewers and web site visitors around the world. She isn’t dismissing the treatment of animals in this discussion. Quite the contrary, she is making it one of the central points. This is huge. Oprah is very influential. Even if she doesn’t remain vegan, she could potentially teach thousands if not millions of other people to be vegan…for the “right” reasons.

  9. Comment by


    on #

    Turns out Tal Ronnen is going to be feeding her. He’s amazing. If anyone can get her addicted to eating vegan after 21 days (just the right amount of time to break bad habits), it’s him. I’m not going to hold my breath, but this is positive news.

  10. Comment by

    Marla Rose

    on #

    Jason, did you happen to see the show? I think that calling her an “overprivileged idiot” is a little on the harsh side, especially since she made it very clear that she was advocating veganism for the animals and that the health benefits one might reap are a nice side-effect. I just happened to be on the elliptical at the gym when it came on the monitor and I was bracing myself for someone proposing that we all eat monkey dung to attain optimal health (not being familiar with Kathy Freston) so I was very pleasantly surprised. Yes, she’s a lifestyle guru-type, but what were you expecting, a Dumpster-diving member of ALF on Oprah?

    Regardless of whether Oprah continues on the cleanse, her guest was given a forum with perhaps our country’s most influential woman and gave exposure to a lifestyle and philosophy many find intimidating. I mean, is veganism supposed to be an exclusive club or are we supposed to try to make it accessible to people? What is of most benefit to the animals? Not everyone is going to be vegan for OUR reasons, nor express themselves the way that we wish they would, but I think that regardless as to whether Oprah remains vegan, the word is out there in an effective way that it wasn’t before. We need to stop being our worst enemies when it comes to getting the message to the public and accept the fact that there are a diversity of voices. As she clearly and unequivocally stated that she was vegan for ethical reasons, I see no reason to slam Kathy Freston.

  11. Comment by

    Peace Loving Vegan Police

    on #

    Joselle Palacios said:
    “[Kathy Freston] speaks of ‘spiritual integrity.’ How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?”

    Kathy Freston said:
    “compassion, kindness, mercy and the alleviating of suffering”

    Sounds like the beginnings of animal welfare speak mixed up with Christian inspired seven deadly sin guilt tripping.

    Can we stop with the spirituality premise of vegansim. It’s not Buddhism, and the most famous Buddhist, the Dali Lama eats meat anyway. The more vegans keep talking about spirituality and animal vibrations and karma the more it confirms easy dismissal of new-agey, out there, hippie mumbo-jumbo. Sure, it’s there, it’s apart of vegan history, but these days you don’t need to accept some supernatural metaphysical framework to be vegan. If you’re into that cool, but keep it to yourself, let’s have some separation of religion and social movement. Spirits! I cast thee out! Out I say! Out!

    She’s talking about animal treatment, “her central point,” and spirituality. Less hand wringing over treatment and put the crystals away, let’s hear about non-exploitation and non-violence, veganism without the diversionary clutter. Watch me dismiss animal treatment while advocating veganism, it’s easy:

    Let’s consider long and hard to stop using animals as means to our ends.

    Did I mention treatment? No. It’s made irrelevant with a coherent vegan message. Treatment and suffering is an endless discussion point of degree that doesn’t need to be brought to the table if we say what we mean in the first place. It’s fine if many people disagree, but at least they’ll know what they are disagreeing to. The people that we are trying to reach will “get it” if we “give it” to them.

    Joselle Palacios said:
    “This is huge. Oprah is very influential. Even if she doesn’t remain vegan, she could potentially teach thousands if not millions of other people to be vegan…for the “right” reasons.”

    When, not if, Oprah doesn’t remains vegan on a diet plan that not set up as a long-term strategy, we are almost guaranteed to get an outspoken ex-vegan. Ugh, I can’t bear to listen to another one of those. The movement creates ex-vegans with the “try it for any old reason pitch.” It takes any old reason to quit.

    The reaction will be, “Oprah tried veganism and it didn’t last!” Further confirmation to the masses of how unviable veganism is when Oprah wasn’t undertaking a vegan informed diet in the first place, just some detox hoopla to align her energies.

    Stop catering to everyone else’s whim of what veganism is. It’s why vegetarianism is a meaningless. Vegetarians eat anything for any stupid reason, fish, chicken, grass-fed beef but only on weekends. Stop jumping at opportunities to “save the animals”. Big picture-long term, focus on building a social movement that actually advocates a position, that’s what will get the job done. People should be vegan for the reasons intended in its inception. It’s not about building any old movement; it’s about building a coherent and cohesive movement.

    “Ways of living that seek to exclude the exploitation of animals, as far as possible and practical, for food, clothing and all other purposes.” That’s the definition from the source, the Vegan Society, I didn’t make it up, but I signed on for that. If people aren’t vegan for OUR reasons than guess what, they are not vegan, they can have fun with their cleansing diets and dreams of weight-loss or spiritual integrity or whatever and we don’t have to associate ourselves with tangential nonsense when it goes sour — I went vegan so I could camouflage my anorexia, that’s okay, because any reason is a good reason!

    Dietary cleansing? Animal treatment? Spiritual integrity? What does “spiritual integrity” even mean? It can be anything to anybody.

    I know I sound dogmatic, but we don’t need to reinvent the vegan message to suit everyone.

    Can we talk about exploitation for a change? Can we talk about richer meanings behind the vegan perspective. Remember, Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, desired a break from vegetarian societies because it was felt that the vegetarian message have become watered down and convoluted even back then, all sorts of juju was acceptable as a reason to be vegetarian. Do we need coffee enemas to be vegetarian? Of course not!

    Hitler (Goodwin Law!) was pretty near vegetarian, popular opinion would consider him one, but I’m going to side with vegetarian historian Rynn Berry (vegan) and kick Hitler out of vegetarian club. Call me elitist, but its not just the occasional liver dumplings and quails that bars Hitler, but the atrocities and violence committed under his regime. It’s not a diet plan. If you are serious about what veganism and vegetarianism is, you’ll hold it to a similar high bar, not to make it impossible, but to make it meaningful.

    We can all sing our little tunes and just make unintelligible noise or we can sing the same song and be heard loud and clear.

  12. Comment by


    on #

    I see the pros and cons and I’m choosing to be optimistic and give Oprah the benefit of the doubt. I will be disappointed if she doesn’t stick with it, but I’ll be more disappointed if she doesn’t stick with it and I did nothing to help her stick with it. So I’m sending her letters, encouraging my friends and family to send her letters, and I’m posting on her messageboard. She’s Oprah. She could change the world if she wanted to. She really could.

  13. Comment by


    on #

    Making too many major changes to your diet at once is a good way to doom yourself to failure, to make yourself feel deprived. Cutting out caffeine, gluten, etc is not vegan though many vegans do for other reasons.
    What I predict Oprah is going to get out of this? She’s going to feel deprived, not because veganism deprives you at all (it most certainly doesn’t and is v. satisfying) but because anyone would when that many addictive things are cut out at once and you fast.

  14. Comment by


    on #

    I’m with Peace Loving Vegan Police.

  15. Comment by


    on #

    Jason, to answer “It’s about the animals, stupid.”:

    I agree. It’s about the animals. I consider myself one of the biggest animal lovers EVER. HOWEVER, animal cruelty is not the only reason to live the vegan life; it’s kind of “stupid” to say that it is. The dietary reasons for going vegan are valid reasons. (i.e. The ideal cholesterol intake for a human being is NONE because we produce all that we need, and the only way to consume a completely cholesterol-free diet is to be vegan.)

    I went vegan for a number of reasons–mostly due to my love for animals and having watched my slaughters growing up, but when my omnivore boyfriend began being forced to eat this way (because I do all the cooking), he almost immediately shed 8 pounds WITHOUT exercising (although we’ve joined a gym, so exercise is going to start being part of his routine as well). At first, he was ecstatic about the weight, but the longer he was on the diet (and it wasn’t long into it), the more excited he got about other aspects of the diet and learning more about it. Soon he began to care about things such as finding shoes, furniture, etc. that were made without using animal products.

    Whatever a person’s reasons are for starting a vegan diet, it’s hard NOT to evolve into a more compassionate (if not spiritual) person from this change.

    I’m glad Oprah is at least giving it a trie.

    Lastly, we vegans preach compassion, yet we often don’t breach the topic with opers with compassion. As someone who was raised in a fundamentalist, conservative, Republican, Baptist home, I can ASSURE you that a militant approach to anything is not going to help the cause.

  16. Comment by


    on #

    *breach the topic with OTHERS (not “opers”)

  17. Comment by


    on #

    People, let’s face it, do we really NEED meat in our diets? The answer is ‘no!”. We only WANT it because we have been trained and brainwashed to believe that we are not having a balanced meal unless there is an animal or meat product on our plates. The cow eats the grass and is fine, but humans, instead of eating the grass (or veggies) would rather eat the whole cow instead of just eating what the cow eats. It’s all really silly and senseless to me. Pure gluttony. Wake up, people! Wake up!
    I can not find one true benefit to consuming meat, besides maybe satisfying our tastebuds. But, really once you de-program your mind, and renew your thinking, animal consumption becomes so ridiculous.

    I agree with most of you here that being a vegan is a commitment for your body, mind and spirit. We certainly should be more conscious about the foods we eat, and ask questions!

    Peace N Veggie Grease
    Numi D.

  18. Comment by


    on #

    The only reason Oprah’s attempt at veganism was annouced here was to rejoice in the hope of having a mass audience be educated and perhaps attempt this way of living themselves. Isn’t it?

    Then why the f*ck are we slamming Oprah? It hasn’t even been a week since she started and some people are already placing bets that she won’t make it a lifetime choice.

    Who gives a f&ck? Do we slam our parents and family as hard when they try it?

    Please, PLEASE, people, a little perspective and compassion for our own species.


  19. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    Regarding It’s about the animals, stupid! and other similar commentaries:

    I read Kathy’s description of her practice of veganism as clearly being about compassion towards animals and the environment. It seemed to me that is part of why Oprah is giving it a go too, but maybe not. I don’t know for sure.

    Still, is veganism about the animals? Exclusively, I mean. I feel like there are a gazillion good reasons to be vegan and that it’s pompous to assert that there is only one intelligent reason to live vegan.

    Jason and NancyCola, thanks for the dose of perspective you have prescribed for reactions to the story!

  20. Comment by


    on #

    Oprah/her assistant hasn’t updated the blog in kind of a while… I wonder if she already caved!

  21. Comment by

    susan britter

    on #

    I have a question for anyone who can answer….I am eating a natural, organic, vegan diet. So far, so good. However, I remember back in anthropology class in college learning that a species intended natural diet can be determined by our the teeth of that species. For example, cows only have the equivalent of molars since all they eat is grain/grass and they are needed for grinding. Dogs have “canine” (duh!) teeth because they are intended to eat meet and those teeth are used for shredding. The fact that human beings have both signifies that our natural diet should contain both types of food, including meat. Honestly, I don’t miss meat at all, but I am wondering about this.

  22. Comment by


    on #

    Humans are opportunistic feeders, and we can eat just about anything. That said, it’s not necessary for humans to consume animal products, especially as much as most humans in the developed world consume. But outside of that, your canines are just as necessary for being able to tear plant foods as it is for tearing meat.

  23. Comment by


    on #

    it’s about the animals! ok then, think about the animals when u drive your car or watch tv! how many creatures suffer 4 your consumption! no one is innocent, animals suffer because of us no matter what we consume!!! who cares if someone ate a little butter! he who is without sin…. you know the rest!! shane (australia) vegans r soooo selfrighteous!!! oh yeah, i was one for 20 years!!!

  24. Comment by


    on #

    Poor, poor Oprah. Hasn’t she suffered enough already, without further undermining her health at an advanced age?

    As for Kathy Freston being “gorgeous”, I wasn’t aware than being an anorexic white female with too much make-up and fake blonde hair extension equals “gorgeous”. Sounds sizist to me (not to mention racist and offensive to blacks). I don’t know a single male attracted to “Kathy”.

  25. Comment by


    on #

    To all of you writing hateful remarks: Who cares why someone goes vegan as long as they do it! Who are you to judge anyone? Most of you were raised on animal products and later converted. So don’t start tearing down someone who is trying in her very public way to promote veganism! This is why many people don’t want to try being a vegetarian, let alone vegan, this hateful, superior attitude of many of you. And yes, I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and a vegan for 2 years. It was thanks to Kathy Freston that I converted. Thank you Kathy. As for the haters, keep your hate to yourself and let the rest of us present a happy, friendly vegan face to the world so that they will want to join us!